Michael O’Leary loses out in Gigginstown stud windfarm row

Permission given to wind farm developers to retain and increase height of met mast

Michael O’Leary with jockey Davy Russel.  File photograph: PA

Michael O’Leary with jockey Davy Russel. File photograph: PA

 

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has lost out in a planning row concerning the first phase of an “industrial scale” windfarm near his Gigginstown House stud enterprise.

This follows An Bord Pleanála giving the green light to wind farm developers, Bracklyn Windfarm Ltd to retain and increase the height to 100 metres of an existing 80 metre high meteorological mast at Bracklin, Co Westmeath near the O’Leary owned stud farm operation.

The mast is being used to measure wind speeds for the area as part of research Bracklyn Windfarm Ltd is carrying out ahead of its plans to lodge a planning application for a nine turbine wind farm for the site.

The board has now granted planning permission for the mast for five years after concluding it would not seriously injure the area’s amenities and would not significantly impact on its ecological or cultural heritage.

The appeals board has granted planning permission despite the strident opposition against the proposal by Mr O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud.

In all 30 parties objected to the mast.

Objecting, planning consultant for Mr O’Leary’s Gigginstown, Ray Ryan of BMA Planning said the stud has “a direct interest in the development as 180 acres of their lands adjoin the Bracklyn estate, which is the proposed site of this development”.

He said it appears the mast is a precursor to a planning application “for a large scale wind farm project” and is currently being promoted in the locality.

“It should be explained what meteorological data is required by the applicant to support the case for excessively high wind turbines in this area that could not be gathered in the timelines presented”, he said.

He said the council has granted five year permission request without any justification as to the needs of this timescale and that it should be rejected.

He also argued that the proposal to increase the height of the mast by 20 per cent is not justified or supported by the visual impact assessment on the receiving environment.

The proposed wind-farm development is being led by the Gaeltech Energy Group which has written to the local community to say the proposed wind-farm will deliver “a substantial community fund” working out at €16,000 per turbine per year over the lifetime of the wind farm.

Board inspector in the case, Stephanie Farrington, said she was satisfied the proposed temporary development was not likely to have a significant impact on the immediate or wider.

Having regard to the slender profile of the structure and its setting within an existing agricultural landscape, it “does not form a prominent or dominant feature on the surrounding landscape,” she said.

In 2019, Mr O’Leary confirmed he would be phasing out his Gigginstown operation over the next four to five years in order to spend more time with his family.